Apple lays off 200 employees from Project Titan, its ‘Apple Car’ project

I’ve long said that I didn’t believe Apple would ever make its own vehicle from scratch, and a new report seems to back me up. Apple has cut over 200 employees from Project Titan, its stealthy autonomous vehicle initiative, reports CNBC.

In a note to CNBC, Apple had this to say:

"We have an incredibly talented team working on autonomous systems and associated technologies at Apple. As the team focuses their work on several key areas for 2019, some groups are being moved to projects in other parts of the company, where they will support machine learning and other initiatives, across all of Apple.

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"We continue to believe there is a huge opportunity with autonomous systems, that Apple has unique capabilities to contribute, and that this is the most ambitious machine learning project ever.”

“Titan” is the name given to the “Apple Car” project. It was reorganized under a new leader, Bob Mansfield (who came back to Apple after retiring to take the job), in July 2016. Layoffs followed at the time, and Apple was believed to have moved away from plans of of building its own car. 

However, Doug Field — who headed Tesla’s vehicle development programs — returned to Apple in August 2018. And Tesla’s senior designer Andrew Kim jumped to Apple in December 2018. Those hires, and various patent filings, revived talk that the tech giant had again decided to make its own car.

Apparently, Apple originally planned to build its own automobile by rethinking every detail of today's car, such as replacing traditional car wheels with spherical wheels, ditching the gas pedal, and adding virtual reality into internal displays, reported the New York Times Daisuke Wakabayashi.

However, as the Sellers Research Group (that’s me) has said before, I don't think that Apple will actually build its own automobiles, but will work with other manufactures to implement technologies such as enhanced CarPlay into their vehicles.

It would have been cool to see what an Apple Car would have been like. But most of us wouldn’t be able to afford it. And Apple needs to focus its resources on its existing product.